Fast Five Quiz: Are You Prepared to Confront Foreign Bodies in Patients?

Richard H. Sinert, DO


April 28, 2017

Near-total obstruction of the larynx or trachea can cause immediate asphyxia and death. Should the object pass beyond the carina, its location depends on the patient's age and physical position at the time of the aspiration. Because the angles made by the mainstem bronchi with the trachea are identical until age 15 years, foreign bodies are found on either side with equal frequency in persons in this age group. After age 15 years, the right main stem bronchus is straighter, allowing most aspirated foreign bodies to enter the right lower lobe of the lung.

Bronchoscopically, the object may appear as a tumor. Even if the object is removed, the inflammatory changes may not be completely reversible. Some investigators believe that scar carcinoma may develop over time. The likelihood of complications increases after 24-48 hours, making expeditious removal of the foreign body imperative. The male-to-female ratio of foreign body aspiration is 2:1, depending on the study.

For more on foreign body aspiration, read here.


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